ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 149

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Iran unveils new ‘Paveh’ cruise missile that can reach Israel

Top general says Tehran still wants to kill former US president Trump, Secretary Pompeo to avenge the assassination of Qassem Soleimani

Iran releases a video of the new Paveh cruise missile, with a reported range of 1,650 km on Friday February 24, 2023 (IRNA Screencapture/used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)
Iran releases a video of the new Paveh cruise missile, with a reported range of 1,650 km on Friday February 24, 2023 (IRNA Screencapture/used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

A senior Iranian general unveiled a new cruise missile with a range of 1,650 km (1,025 miles) that could potentially reach Israel in an interview with state television on Friday, in which he also reiterated Tehran’s desire to kill former US president Donald Trump.

“Our cruise missile with a range of 1,650 km has been added to the missile arsenal of the Islamic Republic of Iran,” said Amirali Hajizadeh, the head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps aerospace force according to the Reuters news agency.

The television broadcast what it said was the first footage showing the new Paveh cruise missile, showing the missile launch, then flying low over terrain before hitting a target.

Beyond the range, Hajizadeh gave no further details of the missile.

The Guard in the past has said it has cruise missiles with ranges of 1,000 kilometers (620 miles). It also has missiles that range up to 2,000 kilometers (1,250 miles), more than enough to reach archenemy Israel and US military bases in the region.

Iran, which has developed a long list of homegrown weaponry, including drones, naval vessels, aircraft and electronic systems, has sparked mounting concern around the world with its supply of suicide drones to Russia for use in Ukraine and fears it could send other weapons systems to Moscow.

Israel has long warned against Tehran’s missile program saying it poses a threat to Israel, the region and Europe, not just for its conventional capabilities, but also because they could eventually be used to launch nuclear weapons should Iran acquire them.

In 2018, then-US president Donald Trump pulled the United States out of the Iran nuclear deal, claiming it was too weak and didn’t address Iran’s missile development.

He also re-imposed crushing sanctions on Iran. Tehran has since started enriching uranium up to 60% purity — a short technical step from the 90% needed to make an atomic bomb.

Speaking to State TV on Friday, Hajizadeh also reiterated Iran’s desire to kill Trump and former secretary of state Mike Pompeo for their role in the January 3, 2020, killing of Iran’s Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimani in an American drone strike in Baghdad.

“God willing, we are looking to kill Trump. Pompeo … and military commanders who issued the order (to kill Soleimani) should be killed,” Hajizadeh said in the television interview.

A girl holds a poster of Iranian commander Qassem Soleimani as she takes part in an anti-US protest against the killing of top Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani in Iraq, in Lahore on January 12, 2020. (ARIF ALI / AFP)

The report on the new cruise missile came hours after Iran said it will likely send air defense systems to Syria, a move apparently meant to protect against Israeli airstrikes.

“Syria needs to rebuild its air defense network and requires precision bombs for its fighter planes,” the Iranian state broadcaster said, according to Reuters.

“It is very likely that we will witness the supply by Iran of radars and defense missiles, such as the 15 Khordad system, to reinforce Syria’s air defenses,” it added.

The state TV report follows an airstrike in Damascus last weekend that was attributed to Israel, which the news agency on Wednesday said targeted a meeting of Syrian and Iranian officials involved with the manufacture of drones, as well as members of the Lebanese terror group Hezbollah.

Syria has said five people were killed and 15 wounded in the attack on Saturday night. The Israeli military has not commented on the strike, per its policy of not generally commenting on air raids in Syria, though it has acknowledged conducting hundreds of sorties against Iran-backed groups attempting to gain a foothold in the country over the last decade. Israeli officials have previously said the IDF does not target civilians and seeks to avoid damage to residential areas as much as possible.

A large hole is seen in the Kafar Sousah neighborhood of Damascus, after an alleged Israeli airstrike on Syria, February 19, 2023. (SANA)

Iran’s foreign ministry condemned the strike on Sunday, but did not mention any Iranian casualties.

It was also denounced by Russia, which like Iran is a key backer of the Syrian regime in the over decade-long civil war, as a “flagrant violation” of international law.

Israel’s need to coordinate with Russia — which largely controls Syrian airspace — to carry out strikes has been cited as a chief reason for Jerusalem’s reluctance to supply Kyiv with weaponry amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Israel has found itself at odds with Russia as it increasingly supported Ukraine while seeking to maintain freedom of movement in Syria’s skies.

Also Friday, the White House said Russia is considering sending fighter jets to Iran as part of an expanding military cooperation that has seen Tehran ship growing quantities of weaponry to Moscow for use in the invasion of Ukraine.

“We believe that Russia might provide Iran unprecedented defense cooperation, including on missiles, electronics and air defense. We believe that Russia might provide Iran with fighter jets,” National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters.

Illustrative: Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, meets with Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, September 15, 2022. (Alexandr Demyanchuk, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

Kirby said Iran, which is deeply isolated by Western sanctions aimed at halting its disputed nuclear program, was seeking to bolster its military with Russian help in exchange for sending armaments used in the year-long onslaught against Ukraine.

“Iran is also seeking to purchase additional military equipment from Russia, including attack helicopters, radars and combat training aircraft. In total, Iran is seeking billions of dollars’ worth of military equipment,” Kirby said.

“We were concerned it was going to go both ways, and those concerns are certainly being realized,” he said.

According to Kirby, Iran has already sent hundreds of drones, as well as artillery and tank ammunition, to Russia, saying that “Iran’s support for Russia’s war has expanded.”

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